The Gender Wage Gap Myth

Women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns — for doing the same work.

No matter how many times this wage gap claim is decisively refuted by economists, it always comes back. So why not have someone completely unqualified take a crack at it.

Wage gap activists say women with identical backgrounds, jobs, and who work the same hours as men still earn less. Activist groups like the National Organization for Women have a fallback position: that women’s education and career choices are not truly free — they are driven by powerful sexist stereotypes. In this view, women’s tendency to retreat from the workplace to raise children or to enter fields like early childhood education and psychology, rather than better paying professions like petroleum engineering, is evidence of continued social coercion. In short they are saying the “patriarchy” subliminally forces women into lower paying career fields. Here is the problem: American women are among the best informed and most self-determining human beings in the world. To say that they are manipulated into their life choices by forces beyond their control is demeaning and is a sad commentary of how some people view women. Their notion is that women are simply too dumb or weak to think for themselves and choose the careers they actually want. I think the numbers show that women are choosing the careers they prefer but those careers just aren’t as lucrative as those chosen by men. There’s nothing wrong with that. Do what makes you happy.

I first heard this claim when I was a kid at my aunt’s house. She told us, that men earn more than women simply for being men. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but looking back I see how absurd such a suggestion was. For that to be true, there would be no point to hiring men at all. Employers could just hire all women and cut salary costs by 25 percent.

The bottom line is the 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure or hours worked per week. It compares apples and oranges, of course garbagemen, loggers, and construction workers (jobs dominated by men) will out earn daycare and social workers.When such relevant factors are considered, the wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing.

Now people who promote the wage gap myth would say to this, “Those jobs are paid less because women work in them.” To that I would say, “ You’re wrong and here’s why.” Deep sea fisherman deserve to be paid $70,000 a year. Because what they are doing is physically difficult, dangerous, and requires them to be ona ship in the middle of the sea for 4–5 months. There salary has nothing to do with them being men and there is nothing stopping a woman from buying her own fishing boat and doing the same. They are paid more because it is a difficult job that no one wants to do. If they were being paid the same as a daycare worker, why would anyone risk their life to go fishing?

Now just for fun lets look at a nice infographic

“Much of the wage gap can be explained away by simply taking account of college majors. In the pursuit of happiness, men and women appear to take different paths.”

Top 10 Highest Paying College Majors

1. Petroleum Engineering: 87% male
2. Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration: 48% male
3. Mathematics and Computer Science: 67% male
4. Aerospace Engineering: 88% male
5. Chemical Engineering: 72% male
6. Electrical Engineering: 89% male
7. Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: 97% male
8. Mechanical Engineering: 90% male
9. Metallurgical Engineering: 83% male
10. Mining and Mineral Engineering: 90% male

Top 10 Lowest Paying College Majors

  1. Counseling Psychology: 74% female
    2. Early Childhood Education: 97% female
    3. Theology and Religious Vocations: 34% female
    4. Human Services and Community Organization: 81% female
    5. Social Work: 88% female
    6. Drama and Theater Arts: 60% female
    7. Studio Arts: 66% female
    8. Communication Disorders Sciences and Services: 94% female
    9. Visual and Performing Arts: 77% female
    10. Health and Medical Preparatory Programs: 55% female

Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler has a great takedown of the myth, giving “two Pinocchios” to those who continue to push it as a means of telling women they’re perpetual victims of discrimination. One important factor that Kessler points out is that women often choose lower-paying fields. He includes two lists, the first showing that nine of the 10 highest-paying fields are dominated by men (the second highest-paying profession, pharmaceutical sciences, has slightly more women than men). The second list shows that nine of the 10 lowest-paying fields are dominated by women (theology and religious vocations is the only one with more men than women). Men dominate 9 out of 10 of the highest paying majors and women dominate 9 out of 10 of the lowest paying majors, because men and women are different. Generally they have different interests and thats okay. Everyone should do what makes them happy and should look for a career they enjoy.

All variables taken into account prove that the gender wage gap statistic is not only misleading it what it says and the kernel of truth behind can be explained by the choices men and women make, NOT sexist discrimination.

Still not enough proof? Here is a lovely video that can sum everything about this argument in 5 short minutes.

Video from Liberty

For those of you who would like to claim that since a man delivered the facts they must not be true, here is a woman saying the exact same thing.

Video from

The fact that a deeper explanation exists at all only further proves that the broad numbers we see only make for a useful talking point and little more. Dig down deeper in any office and the wage gap just doesn’t hold up to any level of scrutiny. In fact, the only true way to eliminate the supposed gap is to control the choices women make, but that would be a crazy proposition.

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